Monday, September 7, 2009

TOWER excerpt

Tower, by Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman (978-1-935415-07-7; trade paperback original; $15) On sale in 2 weeks!


“Always be near to them, but make sure they’re far away from you.”
—Jake Arnott, The Long Firm

GRIFFIN COUGHED BLOOD into my face when I made to slip the chains under his shoulders.

The chop on the water slapped the wrecked pilings with the backs of both hands and the thick layer of mist that hung over the West Side of Manhattan rendered the lights of Jersey a blur. They might well have been cleaning up the Hudson, but you couldn’t tell by the stink coming off the river. Or maybe that was just the stink of Griffin’s rotten soul.

“I forgive ya, boyo,” he said through red, clenched teeth.

Stuck my fist against one of the two holes in his gut and pushed. Made his whole body twitch. Making Griffin twitch, now that was something to take pride in.

“Your forgiving me is pretty fucking funny. Like the devil threatening to send me to the principal’s office. Besides, it wasn’t me that killed you.”

“I know that, but yer forgiven just the same.”

“Sure he didn’t shoot you in the head? You’re talkin’ kinda crazy.”

“Do me a favor, Todd, don’t finish me before ya put me back in the river.”

“That’s the one favor I’m inclined to grant. Why?”

“Penance. I’ve a long list of debts.”

“You’re a sick fuck, Griffin, and nuts if you think a few seconds of terror—”

“It’s a start.”

“For a guy had nothing to say while he was alive, you’ve become a talkative cocksucker as a corpse.”

“Near corpse.”

“I stand corrected.”

“Look at me, boyo. Look close.”

“What am I supposed to see?”

“Yer own self.”

“All I see is a dead man.”

“Then yer blind. Are ya sure yer looking close?”

I began threading the chains through the centers of my old weights. Pulled the chains tight and his whole body shuddered. Didn’t like that, Griffin. Gave me the cold stare. The Griffin I knew.
“Fuck that, Griffin. I’m shitting my pants I’m so scared.”

“Ya should be. Ya’ll be here soon enough.”


“Look at me.”

“Not this shit again. I’m nothing like you.”

“The same.”

“Nah, Griffin, I’ve never killed for pleasure, never detonated a car bomb and blown up toddlers and old ladies. Boyle liked telling people about that, scared the hell out of ’em.”

“Yer missing the point.”

“And you’re pissing me off, Dead Man.” Brought together two end links, slipped an old lock through, and clicked it shut. “Remember Jacob Marley, Griffin? ‘These are the chains I forged in life . . .’ ”

“You’ll be wearing 'em someday. They’re God’s commandments, boyo, not his suggestions. If ya think ya’ll escape the chains, yer a fool. It’s a tower of cards ya’ve built for yerself. Recognize the joker in the deck?”

Yanked hard on the chains to make sure they were secure. Griffin’s body convulsed with such fury that he near rolled over. Few more episodes like that and he’d drop into the river without a push. The spasms calmed.

“Heard what you did to Rudi. Least I won’t end up in a pile of lion shite.”

“What, fish shit is more dignified?”

“S’pose we all turn up as worm shite one way or the other. Doesn’t matter if a bullet finds ya or if a plane falls on yer head, you’ll come out the ass end of something. That shield in yer pocket is no protection. Beneath the skin—” The convulsions began anew, struggle for breath. “Beneath the—”
Tapped my watch crystal. “Tick . . . Tick . . . Tick.”

Said something to me, but it was barely a whisper. The blood bubbled and foamed on his lips. I put my ear close to his lips. Felt his faint breath. Kept my ear there. Waited. His breath grew fainter still. Turned to face him, my nose near touching his. His eyes were glassy, fixed.

“Nothing to say? That’s the Griffin I knew in life.”

His head jerked up, lips pressing against mine. Flailed to push him away, but his head fell dead to the pier before my hands touched him. Mouth painted red in his blood, I rolled him into the river, this time for a longer stay.




One line, one simple sentence and I’m off.

Well, almost.

I’m sitting at the counter, peeling the label off a longneck, and the rage is filling my mouth, the bitterness rising like the old bile and I bite down, take a deep breath and try to ease a notch.

The deep breath helps?

Like fuck.

Debbie is the woman who works the bar, not bad looking, a bit of mileage on the odometer but who’s counting? I can see the bruise under her left eye and it’s going to blacken more in a day. I know, I’ve had my share and given them too. But not to women, never hit a woman in my goddamned life. Hurt them?


But that’s a whole other trip and we’ll get to that, like later.

I miss New York, every freaking moment and never more so than now. If this were Brooklyn or even downtown Manhattan, I’d be going to my car, opening the trunk, getting the bat out, taking care of business.

I guess I could say to her

“Suck it up.”

It’s what I’ve been doing for the past ten months and I’m sick of it. This one-horse shithole, this constant rain and the people, as miserable a bunch as you’d ever come across. So, the rain doesn’t help their disposition, like I tell you now, that’s a crock. You put this bunch down in Florida, you know what? They’d be bitching, it’s what they do.

Whine City.

I say to Debbie

“Give me another brew?”

And she gives me the look.

Like, I’m not going to say anything about the shiner or what she just told me. Not today honey.
She sighs, plunks the bottle on the counter, and the way she does it, she’s mad as hell. Disappointed too.

Fuck her.

Disappointment, honey, I wrote the book.

Ask my old man.

I look out the window, the grime-stained panes and I can see the arc of the mill. It’s throwing a shadow, for all the world like the tower, the North Tower, where my old man worked.

That shadow has been with me all my life.


Tower will be published in September 2009. Find copies at your favorite independent, chain, or online bookseller. See the list at the right for some of the indies that support & stock BFP titles. Go here for the list of cities where Reed Coleman will be touring for Tower.

Be sure to get your first printings of Tower while they last! How can you tell they're first printings? They'll have the red Tower cover... Later printings will all have a black cover.

Oh, and in additional Tower news: An 18-month film option of Tower has just sold to Brad Weston (Bad Santa), Gil Adler (Valkyrie) & Shane McCarthy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this excerpt from TOWER. I doubt I would have been interested since I lean toward cozies, but I sure enjoyed what I read here. Thanks David for helping to keep the mystery alive.